Royal Arch Chapter

Royal Arch Chapter

The Royal Arch is the second largest Masonic organisation within the Province of Northumberland with over 40 Chapters spread over the whole of the county, Newcastle and North Tyneside.

In England and Wales there is an indissoluble link between Craft Freemasonry and the Royal Arch, with the Royal Arch being considered the completion of a Freemason’s journey in “Pure Antient Masonry” having been practiced for over 200 years.  

Arguably, the ceremony known as exaltation where new candidates are brought in, is one of the most colourful, dramatic and thought provoking in Freemasonry. Membership of the Royal Arch is a prerequisite of many other masonic orders such as the Knights Templar, Royal and Select Masters as well as the Allied Degrees.  

The Head of the Royal Arch in Northumberland is Ian Craigs who is also the Provincial Grand Master in the Craft. Again this demonstrates the link between the Craft and the Royal Arch. In the Royal Arch, Ian’s title is the “Most Excellent Grand Superintendent” or “Provincial Grand First Principle” and the appointment is by Supreme Grand Chapter in London.   

Historically, a Royal Arch Chapter has been attached to a specific Lodge, using its name and number, although not all Lodges have a Chapter.  There is no obligation to join the Chapter attached to your Lodge, as you are entitled to join any chapter of your choice.  Indeed, joining a Chapter unrelated or at a different Centre gives you the opportunity of extending the circle of your Masonic friends. Candidates are able to join 4 weeks after completing their third degree.   

The teachings of the Royal Arch are based on the Old Testament, telling of the return to Jerusalem from the Babylonian captivity to rebuild the City and Temple. In clearing the ground of Solomon’s Temple for the foundations of a new temple, the candidate makes important discoveries not just in a practical sense but also theological. Members of the Chapter, known as companions, come from many faiths, not just Christian. Each Chapter is ruled conjointly by three principals who normally change every year at an installation meeting.  

The number of times Chapters meets varies between three and six times per year, including the installation. Meetings follow the usual format where the ceremony is followed by a meal during which charity fundraising raffles are held. One Chapter in Northumberland (currently at Byker), Per Diem, is held on a weekday for companions who find it easier to attend during daylight hours.  

Royal Arch regalia consists of an apron, sash and jewel which can be obtained from the usual regalia sources, whether new or “pre-loved”. As you progress in your Chapter, the colours of parts of your regalia, e.g. the ribbon on your breast jewel, change to indicate your rank. The Royal Arch jewel is one of the few jewels permitted to be worn in a Craft Lodge.  

Get in Touch

For further information about joining the Royal Arch, please speak to your Lodge’s Royal Arch Representative or contact the Provincial Archways team via the email below.


Royal Arch Chapter Team

Provincial Grand Superintendent

Ian Craigs

Ian Craigs has been our Provincial Grand Superintendent since 2014. He is responsible for leading the province, supported by the Chapter Team. During his tenure, Ian has encouraged wider participation of our membership in developing the province, focusing on attracting new members to the Chapter.

Professionally, Ian is a Farmer in Northumberland, which occupies most of his time outside Freemasonry.

Provincial Deputy Grand Superintendent

Gordon Craigs

As Deputy Grand Superintendent, he assists the Grand Superintendent in promoting the Chapter and encouraging Chapters to make the ceremonies enjoyable for candidates and members. In addition, he is also keen to help Companions understand the meaning behind the ritual.

Gordon is married with two children and two grandsons. He is an Environmental Health Officer presently working as a Food Safety Consultant. His hobbies outside freemasonry include an interest in all things mechanical, gardening and driving his MGB.

Provincial Second Grand Principal

Philippe Pagès

Philippe is our Second Provincial Grand Principal. He is responsible for assisting the Provincial Grand Superintendent in maintaining and developing the Royal Arch in Northumberland.

Philippe is also the Assistant Provincial Grand Secretary in the Craft and Assistant Provincial Grand Scribe E in the Royal Arch.

Provincial Third Grand Principal

Paul Winship

Paul Winship is our Third Provincial Grand Principal. He is responsible for assisting the Provincial Grand Superintendent in maintaining and developing the Royal Arch in Northumberland.

Paul has recently retired, having been a Director of a Financial Services business for more than 20 years. Married to Allison, his hobbies are golf, which he tells me he plays very badly, walking (usually in search of his golf ball) and cycling.

Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals

Paul Ryder

Paul Ryder is one of the Assistants to the Provincial Grand Principals. He is responsible for facilitating communication between the Province and Chapters and also assisting the development and implementation of Chapter mentoring in our Lodges. As part of the Provincial Chapter Executive he strives to implement the Members’ Pathway, ensuring that, on being Raised as a Master Mason, Exaltation into the Royal Arch Chapter is part of the ‘complete’ Masonic journey.

Paul hails from Bradford in West Yorkshire and came to Newcastle to study. He is married to Julie, and they have one grown up daughter. Professionally he works as a Business Development Director for a London based recruitment solutions consultancy. Outside work, Paul enjoys the occasional run (which is more of a jog these days), spending time on the family allotment, walking Archie and Pippin the two-family dogs, reading, and going to concerts in a vain attempt to relive his youth. His sporting interests include supporting Bradford City Football Club.

Paul is a former Trustee of the community run Jesmond Pool and Chairperson of Jesmond Joggers Running Club, and since 2019 he has been a Street Pastor in Newcastle.

Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals

Andrew Smith

Andrew Smith is one of the Assistants to the Provincial Grand Principals. Like Paul, he is responsible for facilitating communication between the Province and Chapters and also assisting the development and implementation of Chapter mentoring in our Lodges.

Andrew is a native of Cheshire, settling in Newcastle in 1984. He is married to a ‘Geordie Lass’ and has two grown up Sons. He has worked as a Scientist for Procter & Gamble since 1988, leading Global washing appliance understanding. Outside work, he enjoys the company of 2 Black Labradors & a Golden retriever. Sporting interests are Rugby and Formula One.

Provincial Grand Chapter Treasurer

Dennis Frazer

Dennis is responsible for collating and banking of the Provincial Annual dues, Chapter rituals and Chapter Ties; the compilation of the Annual accounts; the calculation of future expenditures inclusive of Annual meeting costs and changes to the annual subscription charges. He works closely with the Provincial Grand Scribe E. to quantify and implement any changes in expenditure and alterations to the annual subscription charge.

Although now retired, professionally, Dennis started his working life as a mechanical fitter for a large Turbine Generator manufacturer, working his way up to become the Manufacturing Estimating Controller with responsibilities for managing a team of Production Measurement Estimators who compiled manhour and material estimates for Turbine Generator Tender submissions and the Company’s manufacturing, planning, and control systems. Dennis enjoys reading and distance walking outside of freemasonry and is a keen gardener.

Provincial Grand Membership Officer

Gary Breach

Gary is responsible for leading the development and implementation of attracting and engaging new members in our Province. He works closely with the Provincial Grand Mentor to implement the Members’ Pathway under the direction of Assistant Provincial Grand Master Dr Greg Smith.

In his professional life, Gary is the Managing Director of a National Commercial Cleaning Services company. Away from work, Gary enjoys spending time with his family, watching Rugby, walking his dog, playing golf and foreign travel.

Provincial Grand Mentor

David Stockdale

David Stockdale is our Provincial Grand Mentor. David is responsible for leading the development and implementation of mentoring in our Chapters across the Province. He works closely with the Provincial Grand Membership Officer to plan the implementation of the Archway.

Professionally, David is the director of an independent national provider of social care for people with learning disabilities, complex autism, or mental health conditions. Outside of Freemasonry, David enjoys travelling to Italy, reading, playing board games, and walking his two retired Greyhounds. David is also the Trustee of a community organisation in Newcastle and a member of the charity Freedom from Torture.